We’d been assigned a new job coach. Back in September, Valerie came into our lives. She reviewed everything we had tried, thought about it, and then asked one question.
“Why can’t CJ just work at Lake Howell?”
Lake Howell. The high school that had been his life for six years. Lake Howell, that he loves more than junk food, more than football, more than his mom.
Well, why not?
I have been thinking and thinking and praying so hard, reminding myself that no matter how big I dream for CJ, God’s plan for his life is already in place and so much bigger than anything I could ever imagine. But believing it…having faith in it…has been so hard sometimes. Hitting wall after wall, jumping through hoop after hoop, it’s been so hard to imagine a life for my son that includes purpose and most of all, joy.
And now, here it was. Or at least, it might be.
Valerie, who we now consider a genius, went to work. I tried not to get my hopes up.
It seems that the cafeterias at the schools are now outsourced. She had to make contact with the business that provides food service to the Seminole County school system. It took weeks and weeks.
CJ kept on trudging through job fairs and training. I learned that some corporations hold job fairs for people with special needs, with no intention of actually hiring anyone. It’s all for appearances. I drove him all over town. He kept getting dressed at 6 AM. I tried not to lose hope.
And then the phone rang. Valerie had made contact with the manager of the cafeteria at Lake Howell. The powers that be in the Seminole County school system had heard about CJ’s application to work in the school cafeteria, and they sent the message: “Make it happen.”
Valerie arranged an interview for CJ with the manager and area manager of the Lake Howell’s cafeteria. CJ dressed at 6 AM, and we went for the meeting at 9 AM. At 9:25, I got a phone call from Valerie saying she was back at the house.
Now, drug testing, background check and everything else that goes with a real job, so that CJ could start the following Monday!
I spent some time on my knees that day, my faith restored and my heart full.
CJ now works 2 hours, 2 days a week, doing lunch prep for the school he loves. If all goes well, that will expand to the limits of his earnings cut off. And it turns out, he’s a pro. He’s a dynamo in the kitchen. He can sort and process and arrange with the best of them. In fact, he’s raised the performance bar for the entire staff..And I am grateful beyond words. Welcome to the new new normal. Welcome home to Lake Howell High School!!